Prepping Dictionary

Why Have A Prepping Dictionary?

Prepping has a lot of special terms. Heck, the average guy probably doesn’t even know what a Bug Out Bag is. There’s a prepper term for nearly everything, and it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the lingo.


Prepping is filled with jargon and abbreviations. The sooner you learn the language of prepping, the more easily you can communicate with fellow preppers- online and in real life.


Another reason for the jargon and terminology is because we need to be able to communicate clearly, quickly, and without any room for confusion. When you know the definition of these different words, you can communicate effectively when there is no room for mistakes. Even learning these terms is part of the preparation itself! And don’t worry, you aren’t learning a medical textbook. These are just some prep related words that will help you when SHTF.


Take, for instance, the INCH Bag. What is that, a bag an inch long? No. It stands for “I’m Never Coming Home” Bag. Pretty serious stuff- when a family member tells you “grab the inch bag!” you gotta know what the heck that INCH bag is. We’ve even got an INCH Bag Checklist


One reason that codewords and abbreviations are useful is that they can serve to identify someone in your group after SHTF. It’s not enough to ask, “are you friendly?” Your group needs to have a code to identify one another. Especially if you take on additional members (this isn’t The Walking Dead, but safety in numbers is just a fact). 

The Prepper's Dictionary

Some these might be new to you, since the prepping vocabulary is constantly changing. I’ve separated out general terms from abbreviations for simplicity’s sake.

Prepping Terms

  • Alpha Strategy
    A survival strategy that embraces storing extra supplies in order to barter or be charitable in the event of a disaster of SHTF situation. Preppers employing the Alpha Strategy had enough strategic reserves to help contribute to food banks during the pandemic.
  • Bivvy
    A bivvy is an incredibly important part of survival gear. It’s an emergency sleeping bag made of thin waterproof, thermal-reflective film to conserve energy and retain body heat. A high-quality bivvy will reflect a great deal of your body’s thermal energy back to you, keeping you warm.
  • Bug Out
    To bug out is to get the heck out of wherever you are! Whether it’s a weather disaster, civil unrest, the reason doesn’t matter. Bugging out means leaving your current location and finding safe ground.
  • Bug In
    On the other hand, bugging in is hunkering down for the long haul. If you live in a rural area and have plenty of food stores along with fresh water, bugging in would be a smart choice in certain disaster and SHTF situations.
  • Bug Out Bag 
    We Have an entire section of this site devoted to Bug Out Bags, even a page to answer your question, “what is a bug out bag?“. But we’re happy to give a quick answer here: a bug out bag is a bag that is packed with essentials that will help you get to a safe location ASAP when a disaster or similar event happens.
  • Buddy Burner
    Also called a “hobo stove,” a buddy burner uses a home made fuel source in order to heat food. One method to make a buddy burner is to take Parrafin wax, melt it, and pour it into a clean tuna can that’s filled with rolled cardboard. It can serve as a makeshift stove burner.
  • Cache
    The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a cache as “a hiding place especially for concealing and preserving provisions or implements” or “a secure place of storage.” And that’s just what a prepper cache is. Whether it’s a storage tub, ammo box, cave, old well, etc. it can be used as a cache. It’s for essentials only, though. So two rules apply: Keep it secret, and keep it safe.
  • Canning
    Referring to canning foods, one of the best ways to store nearly any food long-term. You are able to can both wet and dry food- not just jams but hard-packed pancake mix too.
  • Faraday Cage
    This term refers to a container that blocks out all electromagnetic waves. This, for instance, would block any type of signal from reaching a cell phone or smart phone that you might want to store for later use. Using a Faraday Cage would block any GPS, radio, cell, or any other signal. It’s named after its inventor, Michael Faraday, a scientific pioneer.
  • Genny
    Pronounced like the name “Jenny,” This is the general term for a generator, regardless of the fuel it uses.
  • The Grid
    We talk about going off-grid a lot around here. That’s because the grid is a fragile patchwork of utilities that manage to keep the infrastructure running (relatively) smoothly. The grid isn’t just electricity, although that comes to mind first, but it also involves how we get our food and water.
  • Ham
    Free public radio widely used by many enthusiasts and preppers alike. Check out our post on the ham radio to learn more.
  • Larder
    An Early-American term for a cold food storage place, usually a simple underground cellar. Larders are making a comeback recently since prepping has become more popular. Preppers are learning that they need multiple food storage places. You can’t put all your eggs in one basket, as they say. So many preppers have been hand-digging spare larders on their property in order to store food long-term.
  • Mason Jar
    Another term for a glass jar with a screw-on sealing lid. Like Xerox with copiers, people ended up calling the type of jar by the most popular brand.
  • Paracord
    We love paracord here at Prepper Base! Aside from making a multi-functional bracelet, paracord has nearly countless uses. Building a shelter, trapping, self-defense… The possibilities are endless with Paracord.
  • Prepper
    A Prepper is a person who plans ahead for the worst in order to protect themselves and their families. A prepper knows that we live in uncertain times, and doesn’t just worry about it, but takes action. It’s the prepper that goes out and learns survival skills. It’s the prepper that ensures that he and his family have long-term food stores. Prepping isn’t doom-and-gloom. It’s not waiting around for the zombie apocalypse. Prepping is preparing for the worst while hoping for the best. 
  • Rule of Three
    Also called the “rule of threes.” It’s pretty straightforward. You can only survive three minutes without breathing. You can only survive three days without water. And you can only survive three weeks without food. It’s a good thing to keep in the back of your mind when you think about survival and how fragile life can be. 
  • Zeer Pot
    A zeer pot helps keep your food cold without needing any type of refrigeration.  A zeer pot keeps foods cool through evaporation. In order to make a zeer pot, you’ll need two clay pots. Place one inside the other with a layer of wet sand in between them, and cover.

Prepping Abbreviations

  • EDC – Everyday Carry 
    This refers to a survival tool that you can easily carry with you every day. Whether it’s a knife, belt, holster, there are a ton of things that can be EDC.
  • MRE – Meal Ready to Eat
    Some Meals Ready to Eat are essential to any bug out bag. They provide a great source of nutrients and calories in a (relatively) decent-tasting package. The MRE is also super easy to prepare.
  • N95 – Personal Face Mask
    We all know what an N95 is by now, but the “N” means “not resistant to oil. And the “95” means that in testing, the face mask blocks at least 95% of 0.3 micron-sized test particles.
  • EMP – Electromagnetic Pulse
    We have an entire post about EMP’s and the threat they cause. An EMP basically shuts down all electronics in an area.
  • NIOSH – National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
    This is the governmental body responsible  making recommendations to try and prevent workplace sickness and injury. It’s actually an arm of the CDC. Since NIOSH deals with the workplace and the FDA deals with healthcare, consumer N95 masks should be approved by NIOSH. You want to look for “NIOSH Approved” on your N95 masks. There are fakes out there.
  • SHTF – When The Sh*t Hits The Fan
    It’s when the “sh*t hits the fan.” This is an acronym that covers a plethora of events. It could be a natural disaster, civil unrest, power grid failure, whatever. When the SHTF, it’s time for a prepper to exercise all of their abilities and start their plan for survival.
  • YOYO – You’re on Your Own
    This is after a SHTF event and all aspects of our first-world civilized society fail to function. At this point, everyone is on their own. 

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Kevin Fitzpatrick

I'm Kevin, the founder of Prepper Base. Ever since I discovered Prepping, embracing the Prepper Mentality became my full-time job. I started Prepper Base as an information resource for anyone and everyone interested in Prepping, Survivalism, and Off-Grid Living. I have combed the web and realized that there's a lot of garbage out there related to Prepping. So I want to help you save time with no-BS information that can truly help when SHTF. I've combed through a lot of books and websites and dove head-first into the things that interested me. I hope you can find some useful prepping information here. I am always looking for new things in the Prepping world. Please drop me a line through any of my social media accounts if you have a current event, an idea, or new Prepping-oriented product that you think I should write about. Thanks for visiting!

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